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Hi, loves. 🌸
Summer School is baaaaaaaaack! Plus, some summer reads.
It’s been, remarkably, four (!!) years since I started this newsletter on a funny little whim after a retreat with beloved friends (truly: all good things happen after a weekend with girlfriends, am I right?), and I am so, so, so grateful to all of you for sticking around for so long — and for all the new readers who’ve joined along the way. Thank you for sharing this with your friends! For finding me on Cup of Jo! Or on that tricky little thing called Instagram! Or from Summer School! I adore being in conversation with you here; it has enriched my life enormously and I am grateful.
If you want to go back to the oldest of the old, when I basically forced an email upon 80 of my closest loved ones, you can read here. (If you want to read your way through the pandemic — hahah — the oldest archives are here. And everything since I moved over to Substack is here.)
So! In celebration of summer nipping at our heels, we are taking a right turn today and talking less about feelings/expat life/parenting/etc., and more about flexing your creative muscles this summer. Please pass this along with anyone you think would benefit.
(Cows! On an otherwise normal walk in Cambridge. I’m really going to miss this charming place.)
With no further ado, Summer School is back! Last summer we had the most joyful time. About 140 women gathered on Instagram to read and write and cheer each other on. Yes, of course, you can’t “gather” on Instagram, but sometimes it actually can feel a little like gathering? At least that’s what that space felt like to me last summer, a virtual arena unlike all the others I visit on the regular, where women are not just mindless consumers of (barf) content, but are actually turning their attention toward each others’ stories and listening deeply. It felt, frankly, revolutionary. People wrote about miscarriage, death, parenting, love, forgiveness, anger, loneliness — absolutely everything under the sun. And with so much bravery to boot. I laughed, I cried (for real, and regularly).
At the end of the summer, we had a reading over Zoom, and there were So! Many! Tears! And much giggling. And much drinking! It was a magical reunion of people who’d gotten close in the very particular way you only can when you read other people’s deepest inner thoughts and feelings.
I started Summer School because I know a lot of women don’t have the time or the resources to commit to a weekly (or even monthly) class but are desperate to write, or to at least give themselves even a small creative outlet, to hear their own voices again. I’ve shortened it to 5 weeks (last summer was 8 but people got very busy at the end). This is something you can do at your own pace: you can share your work with the group, or you can write in your journal. Think of it as a creative infusion. Low stakes, high return, easy, breezy summer vibes! I’d be so, so delighted if you joined us. You can reply to this email with any and all questions. And here’s a preview if you’re wondering what you’re in for:
(One of my favourite prompts from Summer School. We always read first, then write, as Dr. Rita Charon says, “in the shadow of the text.” This prompt was based on an excerpt from Katherine May’s WINTERING. People wrote about literal and metaphorical changing rooms.)
Here are some lovely things people said about the experience (and you can do a deeper dive here):
I love love love the poems, the prompts and the feedback. This class has been a huge boost to my flagging creativity. —Leandra
I loved this platform and writing with Abby. Loved the prompts and the live videos. —Daisy
This was such an impressive, fun, inspiring summer program; I feel incredibly grateful to Abby for creating such a wonderful place to explore creativity. —Morgan
No better writing teacher than Abby! She has unlocked so much creativity in me and has inspired me endlessly. —Carrie
It was so wonderful! The prompts were great, and I loved reading other people’s work. —Rachel
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read your work, to welcome you with the biggest hug into this incredible virtual community of writers.
ALL THE (RECENT) READS (Can’t link because it seems to immediately go to Bookshop in the UK, and that’s not useful for you, so go to your local indie!): Nicole Chung’s A Living Remedy; Domenica Ruta’s With or Without You; Hanna Halperin’s I Could Live Here Forever and Something Wild; Daisy Florin’s My Last Innocent Year (so good I read it twice); Pooja Lakshmin’s Real Self-Care; Nora Ephron’s Heartburn; Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories and One Good Turn; Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again; Ann Napolitano’s Hello Beautiful; Judy Blume’s Are You there God? It’s Me Margaret.
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